CPL Regular Season Conclusion: Cavalry Dazzles, Ottawa Ends On A High
The Canadian Premier League regular season came to its conclusion on Saturday with two matches. Forge welcomed Atletico Ottawa, while regular season winners Cavalry hosted Pacific.
Both matches commenced at the same time, with the Forge – Ottawa game moved an hour later than initially scheduled to allow for a simultaneous kickoff.
Cavalry 3-0 Pacific: Cavs Dominate in Deserved Win
In what was a solid performance, Cavalry pulled off an impressive 3-0 win over the visiting Pacific.
The Cavs came into the match off a 2-1 win over Valour last Friday, while Pacific lost 2-1 at home to Vancouver FC in their previous game. The Tridents were trying to finish second, and needed to win and get some help in order for that to happen.
The first chance of the game came just seconds in, as Zakaria Bahous tested Marco Carducci from distance. The Cavalry captain was equal to it, denying Bahous.
In the 10th minute, William Akio went close to giving the hosts the lead. Going for goal from distance, Akio’s shot went just wide from Emil Gazdov’s goal.
The home side took the lead midway through the first half off a corner. Ali Musse whipped in the set piece, with Daan Klomp getting his head to the ball first, beating a helpless Gazdov.
Musse was back at it again a few minutes later. A deflected Sergio Camargo cross found Musse, but the Cavalry winger was unable to direct his header on target.
Pacific, needing a win and some help to face Cavalry again next weekend, looked for an equalizer. Ayman Sellouf found space and let fly from a good 30 yards. His attempt, however, was easily gathered by Carducci.
Myer Bevan came close to doubling the Cavalry lead minutes after the restart. Musse got the ball into the box, finding Bevan with the cross. The Kiwi could not beat Gazdov, with his acrobatic effort being saved by the Pacific goalkeeper.
Cavalry continued to search for a second goal. Just before the hour mark, a cross found Camargo in the box, whose header just went wide of the goal. A few inches the other side of the post, and Cavalry would have added to their lead.
A pair of substitutes nearly got Pacific level. Kekuta Manneh got past a couple of Cavalry players before finding Josh Heard with his cutback. However, the latter failed to get any real power on his shot, making it very easy for Carducci to gather.
Adonijah Reid had Pacific’s best chance of the game in the 73rd minute. The Pacific substitute was found wonderfully, giving him a one-on-one with Carducci. Once more, the Cavalry skipper came up clutch, thwarting Reid and maintaining his clean sheet.
A minute later, Bevan doubled Cavalry’s lead. A well-worked buildup play saw Ben Fisk find Bevan, whose shot went in off of Kunle Dada Luke. The goal brought Bevan level with Ollie Bassett for the CPL Golden Boot race.
Trying to get back into the game, Reid again was involved in trying to score for Pacific. This time, his shot was bravely denied by the head of Eryk Kobza.
The Cavs were unfortunate not to add a third. Fraser Aird was found in the box, with his shot beating Gazdov. However, Thomas Meilleure-Giguere got back and kept the ball out on the line.
In second half stoppage time, the hosts added a third. Ryan Mason’s initial shot was blocked into the path of Mael Henry, who made no mistake of putting the ball past Gazdov.
The game ended 3-0, with Cavalry picking up their 16th win of the season and 10th at Spruce Meadows.
Forge 0-1 Atletico Ottawa: Ottleti Ends Season With Victory
Despite losing out on the postseason, Atletico Ottawa did enough to defeat home side Forge 1-0 at Tim Hortons Field.
Forge lost 2-1 at HFX Wanderers the weekend prior, while Ottawa fell 1-0 to York United away. Going into the match, Ottawa knew that they could no longer make the playoffs as a result of York’s 2-1 win over Vancouver FC the night before. Forge knew a win would be enough for them to claim second spot.
The first shot of the match came in the 12th minute, via Ruben Del Campo. Given space to come off the right wing, Del Campo forced an excellent save from Forge keeper Triston Henry.
Forge’s first serious effort came in the 26th minute. Captian Kyle Bekker was in space to fire a shot on target. Unfortunately for him, the shot went straight at Nathan Ingham.
The Hammers had a massive opportunity just past the half hour mark. After a deflected clearance went into the air, Ingham came out and got a fist on the ball. The ball stayed in the area, where Manjrekar James went one-on-one with the Ottawa keeper. However, his shot went straight at Ingham, who kept the score at 0-0.
Although Ottawa was no longer able to make the playoffs, they did come to compete. Maxime Tissot dragged his shot just wide as the former Forge man nearly put the visitors in front.
Just minutes later, Del Campo again came close. The midfielder managed to find space in the Forge box, with his shot being saved again by Henry. The ball trickled between Henry’s legs and somehow stayed out of the net.
On the last play before the half, James again had a massive opportunity. The center back did very well to beat a couple of Ottawa players before firing a shot on goal. Once again, Ingham was equal to it, saving the shot just before the referee blew his whistle for half time.
In the 54th minute, Ottawa took the lead. A massive defensive error saw Ilias Iliadis pickpocket Bekker and beat Henry to give the away side the advantage.
Ollie Bassett had a chance to double the Ottawa advantage. On the counter, last year’s CPL Player of the Year did well to cut in and af have a go. It was blocked by Alessandro Hojabrpour to avoid the another shot on target.
Woobens Pacius had a glorious chance to level the game. After a fortuitous bounce gave Terran Campbell a shot, the ball deflected to Pacius, whose followup shot was deflected by Michael Espejo and went wide.
What Do the Results Mean for the Final Standings?
As was known before a ball was kicked, Cavalry won the regular season. Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s side ended up on 55 points. They finished 13 points ahead of both Forge and HFX Wanderers, who won 1-0 at Valour the night before.
Forge, despite their defeat, managed to hold on to second spot by virtue of away goal difference. The Hammers ended up level on points, wins and overall goal difference with Halifax. That means Forge will make the trip to Spruce Meadows next weekend to battle Cavalry for a spot in the CPL final.
In the end, the Wanderers’ victory helped them finish third and will await the winner of the play-in match between the fourth place Pacific and fifth place York United. The Tridents will host the midweek play-in game, with the winner heading to Starlight Stadium the following weekend.
Ottawa ends the season in sixth spot with 36 points, missing out on the playoffs by just two points. The bottom two sides, Vancouver FC and Valour, end up with just 29 and 26 points respectively.
The exact playoff dates and times are to be confirmed.